After lunch with Josie I drove straight to Santa Cruz in preparation for my grandpa’s, AKA King Arthur’s, 90th birthday party the following day. My mom is the most mellow yet shockingly efficient planner and doer I know. She often says that Jews always worry that there won’t be enough people or food at a party. Fortunately, my mom always overcompensates for both by inviting everyone she knows (she is the most popular woman in Santa Cruz) and by ordering way too much food. The last time I was in Santa Cruz, my mom, grandpa, and I dined at one of the very few and utterly delicious Thai restaurants in the Santa Cruz called Star of Siam. We had a great dinner that consisted of my grandpa saying, “C’mon ladies, stop giggling” and “This food is so unusual”. My mom proclaimed there and then that Star of Siam would be catering his big b-day bash. The day was equipped with a copious amount of delicious food, a beautiful cake from The Buttery, live music from local musician Keith Greeninger, and the man of the hour telling jokes.
The party was a huge success but the following morning I was woken up at 4:45A by my insane mother that wanted me to do body pump with her-not as fun as it sounds. She is a work-out-aholic that is working on her black belt and told me that every morning she wakes up more than an hour before class because she is so excited. I often pride myself on always waking up in a pleasant disposition but this was pushing it. I reasoned that I had no tennis shoes but my mom offered to check my car as she knows my trunk doubles as a shoe closet. She came back with a pair of shoes that I have never been so unhappy to see. I went half asleep and the teacher Dio led a hard but refreshing workout class. My mom and my 8 year old brother are Minorsan regulars that are crazy about martial arts and practicing their moves on me when I come to visit. I always complain that workouts make me starved and exhausted so I required a breakfast sandwich from The Buttery and a long nap.
The greatest meal of the trip was easily provided by Linwood’s at the Chaminade Resort. The Chaminade has some of the best views and food in Santa Cruz. My mom is a member and we decided to skip on the fancier and more expensive buffet at the Sunset Restaurant and instead dined on the simpler Linwood Bar & Grill menu. My mom, who often complains that whenever I am in town she gains on average 3 pounds, proved that she was a real foodie when she went crazy over her nori roll. I had a delicious, locally grown, Castroville grilled artichoke and a Caesar Salad. The bro went with a burger and fries and a Shirley Temple with 3 cherries.
My family was a little sad the whole visit because Sunny who has lived with my family for more than a year was leaving for the summer and was going to be driving down to LA with me. Sunny was initially my brother’s preschool teacher but she has become a house mate, co-worker, and little sister to my mom and a big sister to me and my brother. Sunny mentioned that she wanted me to go to her going away party with the kids and I somehow thought she meant twenty year olds. I was wrong. Sunny’s kids were a party of 11 at I Love Sushi and as I learned most of Sunny’s friends are under 4 feet. It was a fun night of karaoke, free appetizers, and general tomfoolery. I Love Sushi has become a regular place for special occasions as we did my birthday and my brother’s Sushi and Disco party there as well. Is the food great? Not really, in my honest opinion. However, it is kid friendly and Mr. Kim is like the best ever. It is Sunny and my mom’s favorite place.
In order to make the transition of Sunny and I leaving easier I bought my brother a glow in the dark Ouija Board and a glow in the dark basketball and my mom and I baked a pie. My mom is an awesome cook but not much of a baker due to the fact that she hates following directions. She is a perfect Uncouth Gourmand. My mom and I also share a passion for kitchen gadgets and prior to my visiting she threw an enormous Pampered Chef party. She told me about the caramel apple pie they all made and how she wanted to duplicate it. However, there were two problems. My mom didn’t have the special pie pan nor did we follow the recipe. We decided to put it in a bundt cake pan and eyeballed the recipe and then flipped it upside-down like the PC one. Who says baking can’t be makeshift? It all worked quite well despite the science that is normally needed.
Sunny and I both had cute new haircuts from the lovely Tommy (Tommytito), of The Parlor in Santa Cruz, before we headed to SoCal. Tommy is one of maybe three people that I let cut my hair and my mom even let him give my little bro a buzz.
Sunny and I left for the southern half of the state on Wednesday, just as Josie had requested. I talked a lot about my other UG half, Josie, on the drive down and Sunny was stoked on meeting her. We met up with Josie at one of my favorite izakaya places in Pasadena, Oba Sushi. I had the udon and sauteed mushrooms, Sunny had the beef sukiyaki and Josie had everything else on the menu. Exaggeration, she only had a veggie roll, rice, Oba fries, kara-age, and black sesame icecream. My favorite moment of dinner was not only reuniting with my bestie but the look on Sunny’s face as more and more plates were going to Josie. I also loved when Josie was picking up fries with chopsticks and when the straw of her soda went flying. I immediately yelled, “Uncouth” and Josie responded by saying, “The really uncouth part is that I am going to take it off the floor and use it again”.
Josie had been working for more than ten hours and was in no position to go out. Let’s just say she was out of gas and then, sadly, later actually ran out of gas on the freeway. Sunny and I hit the town solo hitting up Big Foot Lodge and The Griffin. We were whiskey girls all night and Sunny managed to get more attention on her first night in LA than Josie and I have received all month. The UGs have lost their mojo and as Josie said at dinner we need to make a movie about finding it again like the Holy Grail. Sunny was commenting that everyone in LA had teen wolf haircuts and styles and I was in hysterics. It was a very fun night and I was happy to get to have a sleepover with her. The next morning, Thursday, we drove her to her hometown of Orange County where she would be staying all summer. We met up with her brother, his girlfriend, and her mom for a late lunch in Dana Point. The place we ended up heading to was, Tutor & Spunky’s, the very first place Sunny ever worked. The location was new but the people managing the store were the same and according to Sunny the special sauce was even better than what she remembered. I got a turkey and artichoke sandwich, which was perfect. I am a sandwich girl and this spot reminded me a lot of the beach delis I frequented while growing up in Santa Cruz. I suspected I would love it as soon as I met Teresa, who apparently was the first employee they ever had. Plus as a Diet Coke Head they had one of my top drinks, Coke Zero Vanilla, so I knew that I was in heaven. Biting into the sandwich proved it, as all of the ingredients were super fresh and the sandwich worked so nicely together. However, there is another not so happy reason why I won’t soon forget this sandwich. It was here, while eating my sandwich, that I learned of Farrah Fawcett’s death, Michael Jackson’s cardiac arrest, and then ultimately his death. I am sure that in the future everyone will remember what they were doing when they learned about the death of the King of Pop and I like that mine can be associated with a positive food experience. This whole day has been surreal but it would be weirder to have any kind of memory that wasn’t somehow associated with food. I can guarantee you the UGs will be shaking their chonies to PYT, Thriller, and Billie Jean this weekend.